For many years, we have been told that there were plans underway to introduce a law on political funding to provide greater transparency amongst political parties and politicians.
The Governments of the day, and the Oppositions of the day – yes, plural as we have had changes in the corridor of power – have all promised us that. Yet, to this day, the political funding bill has yet to be tabled in Parliament.
What does this show? I am going to call a spade a spade. Very obviously, there is a lack of political will to implement this by both sides of the political divide.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia (APPGM) on political funding has put forward their recommendations. In fact, the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing submitted its findings on the Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) back in 2016! If you recall, this committee was chaired by then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan. I remember this vividly as I was a member of that committee, which included many distinguished ladies and gentlemen such as Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid bin Abdul Rahman, Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Syed Saddiq Syed Rahman.
The draft of the act was then completed in 2017, as correctly pointed out by UMNO secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan recently.
We need to have a transparent political funding system to mitigate elements of money laundering, foreign interference and security risks. If we go by standards in developed democracies, proper guidelines on political contributions need to be drawn up, especially public disclosure on sources and how the money is used.
Political donation is a gift. Receiving political donation is not against the law per se. It only becomes illegal gratification when it involves abuse of power or conflict of interest.
All sectors involving money in the country are regulated, except for political donation. Hence, I am of the view that all reasons objecting and delaying the introduction of this act are “self-serving “. No one is above the law, let alone law makers.
It is with utmost urgency that we stop delaying this bill from being tabled and passed in Parliament, especially with the 15th General Election round the corner.